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This is an aspiring school academically, but ‘not at the cost of creative pursuits or with the work, work, work mentality of London preps,’ as one parent put it (one of several we spoke to who’d made the move from London precisely to get this kind of academic rigour without the hothouse feel). Parents told us the head is promoting a culture of less pressure than there was, although they feel it has become more selective in recent years. Very occasionally, it is suggested tactfully that ...

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What the school says...

Welcome to Junior Kings School, Canterbury. We were founded in 1879 as the preparatory school to The Kings School Canterbury. In 1929 the School expanded to a stunning eighty-acre countryside location at Milner Court, Sturry, conveniently located just two miles from the city. The 16th century Manor House has been augmented by superb educational, boarding, extra-curricular and sporting facilities.

The majority of pupils move on at 13 to Kings. We are similarly proud of our leavers each year who gain scholarships at other leading public schools. We would be delighted to meet you at our next open morning or you can contact us arrange an individual tour.
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All-through school (for example 3-18 years). - An all-through school covers junior and senior education. It may start at 3 or 4, or later, and continue through to 16 or 18. Some all-through schools set exams at 11 or 13 that pupils must pass to move on.

Sports

Rowing

Fencing

What The Good Schools Guide says

Head

Since September 2017, Emma Károlyi, previously deputy head and director of studies at Loretto. She has a degree in classical studies and ancient history from St Andrews and is married to Julian, a modern languages teacher at King’s. They live onsite with their two children, both at King’s, and the school dog who is much loved by all.

We met her on World Book Day, dressed up in full garb, reflecting parents’ claim that she ‘is all about the children, engaging with them on their level at every opportunity’. ‘She’s not into gaining PR points with the parents, although that’s not to say she isn’t approachable,’ said another. Astute, but with a soothing mumsiness about her, pupils say she’s ‘kind’ and ‘so interested in us’. Teaches Latin to year 6 – ‘From day one, I knew I couldn’t be a head and not teach,’ she says. Parents like the way ‘she spent a year watching everything pretty closely, but now she really owns it’, as one put it, with modifications – when they were made - including developing a more open and inclusive atmosphere (including better communications with parents), celebrating more non-academic achievements (‘Now, in a newsletter, you’re just as likely to read about a charity walk as the latest scholarship’, explained one parent) and restructuring the management to include two deputy heads – one academic and one pastoral (‘because both are equally important’). The third deputy is the registrar. Has also improved links with the senior school, although pupils we met felt strongly about wanting ‘to spend more time there before actually going’ – head says she’s ‘on it’.

A keen viola player, she is involved in music and orchestras in Canterbury – she played Brahms’s German Requiem in the cathedral the week after our visit.

Entrance

Most join nursery and reception, and increasingly year 3. Other major intakes in years 5 and 7 when extra classes are added (two forms until year 5, when there are three, then four from year 7) and occasionally into year 8 for CE if trying for King’s. Younger children have a taster day and informal assessments; from year 3 children assessed (‘tested is too strong a word’, says school) in English, maths and non-verbal reasoning. ‘We are looking for appropriate behaviour and potential to manage at an academic school.’

Means-tested bursaries available from year 7 for up to 100 per cent of the boarding fee. Academic scholarships offered at 11+ for new joiners and children already in the school – worth a max of five per cent of fees. Additional bursary support available.

Exit

Around 95 per cent go on to King’s Canterbury. Others to eg Benenden, Eastbourne, Tonbridge and occasionally Eton and Westminster. A few leave for the grammar schools at 11+. Scholarships to King’s Canterbury every year. Parents are given plenty of advice if it is thought a child might not pass CE to their chosen school.

Our view

Founded in 1879 as the prep school for The King’s School, Canterbury and spent its first 50 years in the precincts of the cathedral. Boys were known as ‘parrots’ because of the noise they made and houses are still named after parrots. Moved to current site in 1929 when Lady Milner gave Sturry Court, an Elizabethan manor house, together with the Tithe Barn, in memory of her husband. It was opened by their friend Rudyard Kipling. Two miles from the centre of Canterbury, it is set in 80 acres of grounds and playing fields with the River Stour running through the middle. Despite arriving during drop-off mayhem (parking is a ‘nightmare’, according to parents, although we thought the school did well keeping traffic flowing), the scene was picturesque thanks to the spectacular estate and beautiful buildings.

This is an aspiring school academically, but ‘not at the cost of creative pursuits or with the work, work, work mentality of London preps,’ as one parent put it (one of several we spoke to who’d made the move from London precisely to get this kind of academic rigour without the hothouse feel). Parents told us the head is promoting a culture of less pressure than previously, although they feel it has become more selective in recent years. Very occasionally, it is suggested tactfully that a child might do better elsewhere.

Average class size 15-16, max 18. Setting in maths from year 5, English and languages from year 6 and science in year 8. Separate year 8 scholarship class. French from nursery, Spanish from year 5 and Latin from year 6. Greek offered to scholars. Teachers ‘really get to know what makes your child tick’, said one parent; pupils told us they are ‘friendly and rarely shout’. Much more attention given to SEN in recent years, about 10 per cent with some sort of learning support – system of monitoring and referrals means problems picked up early, although we’re talking mild-end problems here. ‘The SENCo is fabulous – she rings you up and say what they’re going to do, then they do it,’ said one parent. EAL support if required, and these pupils in year 7 get an EAL-trained teacher for English lessons.

Year 3s and 4s have their own building, with spacious, welcoming classrooms and stunning displays, plus own library, changing rooms and pet tortoise – ‘it all helps with the transition from pre-prep’. At this stage, 70 per cent of lessons are with the form teacher, while French, DT, computing, drama, art, sports and music are taught by specialists. From year 5 – where children are taught in classrooms dotted around the school – the number of specialist teachers increases. Bright, sunny library (with weekly bookshop) central to main school with regular visits from authors. Lovely large, light dining room with popular food; long, hour-and-a-quarter lunchbreaks mean children don’t have to rush and can fit in a club, should they wish.

Sport ‘less elitist and divisive’ than it was, say parents, but school still likes to win, with children competing at national level in netball, athletics, hockey, swimming and cricket. Superb facilities, here and at King's. Rowing an option from year 7 and squash offered at King’s. Floodlit Astro means hockey now a major sport for boys and girls. Huge galleried sports hall and five tennis courts. Heated outdoor pool for fun but serious swimming taught at the King’s recreation centre, but pupils we spoke to felt swimming ‘could be better’ – ‘I know people who pretend to be sick for swimming’ (school is trying to get an indoor pool sorted, ‘but these things take time’). Fencing strong and a number of international fencers started at Junior King’s. Inter-house competitions give everyone a chance to take part and attract friendly rivalry. Golf, sailing, riding among sports on offer among the seemingly infinite evening and weekend activities. Saturday school with lessons in the morning and sport in the afternoon from year 5. Pupils told us, ‘If sport isn’t your thing, you can do arts instead of matches from year 5.’

Performing arts take place in the Tithe Barn. When we noticed a glass cabinet stuffed with silverware, a teacher explained, ‘it was rather embarrassing as we hosted the Kent drama festival and won most of the trophies!’ Drama part of the curriculum from year 3 and everyone has the chance to get up on stage at least once a year, with much excitement about the recent Mary Poppins performance, although an older pupil told us they’d like ‘less old-fashioned plays’ (a recent example being The Canterbury Tales). Good numbers for LAMDA.

Music is never far from your ears; over 300 individual lessons a week from peripatetic teachers (all of whose photos appear in the dazzling new music centre – a nice inclusive touch) and we saw ensembles for guitar, saxophone and flute in action (there are many others too) before the school day had even started – impressive stuff. Range of bands and a junior house choir, middle school choir and (audition only) chapel choir. Plus, more recently, a parent choir. All pupils get to sing in the cathedral three times a year and there are music scholarships to King’s senior most years. Regular music workshops from professional musicians free-of-charge.

Busy art department, where we saw year 7s making clay masks. Current teacher has a specialism in textiles. DT from year 3 is extremely popular; gorgeous displays including striking pompom covered stool and illustrated flipflops.

Activities most afternoons and evenings, dozens to choose from (some charged for), everything from bushcraft to debating, dance to riding. Annual Spanish exchange, year 6 weekend in Normandy, much looked forward to post-CE jaunt, sports trips to mainly European destinations which do not put too much strain on parental pockets.

Boarding (mostly full-time, with a few staying only the odd night) from year 5 cared for in two houses: Kipling (boys) and Juckes (girls), 90 beds in total. Local children often ask to board and most don’t even want to go home on Sundays – ‘why would you when there are things like beach trips, Dreamland and panto on offer?’ said one; children told us there is no time to get bored or homesick. Around three-quarters of boarders are international, especially from Asia, Russia, Spain, France and Nigeria. Various sized dorms, some with sinks and some with their own bathrooms are cosy and tidy, albeit with dated pine furniture. Boys get a common room and games room, including computers and playstation; girls get a common room and computer room – ‘and yes, there is some envy there,’ one girl said.

Strong Christian tradition with weekday and Sunday services at the village church but all faiths welcome, and parents say school ‘isn’t pious’. Pastorally on the up, say parents, and discipline policy is based more on merits than sanctions, although children are sometimes suspended and very occasionally, asked to leave. Bullying rare, with updated anti-bullying policy – ‘you don’t feel like you’re telling on someone if you do spot anything,’ a pupil said.

Pre-prep housed in the Oast House with own hall and delightful library. Seven classrooms – among the most stimulating environments we’ve seen for this age group with displays that are second-to-none, with examples of themes including plastic on the beaches, polar explorers and the history of Canterbury. Children learn PE, French, dance and music from nursery onwards with specialist teachers and use the prep school facilities – sports hall, Tithe Barn, sports fields and dining hall. Accredited forest school in the grounds; children reeled off lists of what they’d made there, although older children told us with disappointment that outdoor learning time is minimal further up the school. Weekly visits to local residential home for the elderly part of emphasis on community links. Nursery in Swiss-style chalet known as Little Barn with a free flow to attractive outdoor area with Astroturf – a busy, happy place with guinea pigs and a tortoise. Head of pre-prep a real hit among parents.

Day children from up to 40 minutes away. Accompanied train from Wye and the school uses a fleet of taxis but is considering minibuses. Most from professional families – doctors, medics, lawyers and City and creative types. Of the total pupil population, 17 per cent are international. Strong links with the Foreign Office. Active Friends' Association has weekly coffee mornings, committee mornings and social events such as Burns Night. Alumni include former Olympics minister Hugh Robertson, actor Orlando Bloom, Commonwealth Games president Tunku Imran Ja’affar, ceramicist Edmund de Waal, cricketer Freddie Kemp and international rugby player Huw Jones.

Best suited to bright children with a ‘have a go’ ethos, this traditional prep school brings out strengths, both academic and creative, so that by the time they leave they’re prime fodder for the fast-paced senior school.

Special Education Needs

09-09

Condition Provision for in school
ASD - Autistic Spectrum Disorder Y
Aspergers Y
Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders Y
CReSTeD registered for Dyslexia
Dyscalculia
Dysgraphia
Dyslexia
Dyspraxia
English as an additional language (EAL)
Genetic
Has an entry in the Autism Services Directory
Has SEN unit or class Y
HI - Hearing Impairment
Hospital School
Mental health
MLD - Moderate Learning Difficulty
MSI - Multi-Sensory Impairment
Natspec Specialist Colleges
OTH - Other Difficulty/Disability
Other SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
PD - Physical Disability
PMLD - Profound and Multiple Learning Difficulty
SEMH - Social, Emotional and Mental Health
SLCN - Speech, Language and Communication
SLD - Severe Learning Difficulty
Special facilities for Visually Impaired
SpLD - Specific Learning Difficulty
VI - Visual Impairment

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